They’re too young, they wouldn’t be interested, and what if they won’t sit still? While these are all legit fears for not taking our kids to the theater, here are six performances that’ll guarantee rapt attention and permissive theatergoing—for every last member of the family.
Physical Festival Chicago
If your kids like to run as opposed to walk and to stand (sometimes on one tippy toe) as opposed to sit, we have a theatrical festival right up their busy, busy alleys. The Physical Festival will celebrate nine days of international performances, master classes with guest artists, and plenty of exposure to artistic endeavors that’ll defy concepts of physicality, space and gravity. (Remind you of anyone else you know?)
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
The Wizard of Oz has been a phenomenon since 1900; the tale of Dorothy and her crew has been made into multiple stage plays, found its way into graphic novels, and made Judy Garland a household name. However, it’s the 1978 film The Wiz (starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson) that inspired Emerald City Theatre’s latest success. A mix of rock, gospel, soul and silver sneakers, it’s never been quite this nice to ‘ease on down the road,’ whether yellow brick or the plain ol’ Chicago kind.
Through June 8
The Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
James and the Giant Peach
If we had to play favorites with Roald Dahl’s literary canon, James and the Giant Peach would be near the top of the list. What’s not to love about enchanted trees, insect allies and a rollicking adventure inside a magical peach? The all-new musical tale is from the duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, fresh from their La La Land win. What’s peachier than that? Well, Saturdays feature a breakfast buffet and meet-and-greet, perfect for pulling up a chair—or branch—with the characters your family has fallen in love with.
Through June 16
Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
That’s Weird, Grandma: Phantom of the BBQ
Everybody’s favorite student-written, professionally performed sketch show is back with a new crop of Chicago Public School literary gold. Barrel of Monkeys works with third-fifth graders in creative writing workshops and then takes it to the next level; company members stage them and audiences vote weekly, ensuring no two shows’ lineups are ever the same. (If you were looking for a fun repeat activity this summer, this would be it!)
June 19-Aug. 28
The Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago
Madagascar: the Musical
Fans of Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, King Julien and those crazy penguins will roar for the musical adaptation of one wild island adventure. Clocking in at 70 minutes, it’s a great theatrical primer for kids who have a song in their hearts—and maybe a few ants in their pants.
July 13-Aug. 27
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Chicago ain’t never had a friend like this—and it looks like he’ll be sticking around! The highly anticipated North American tour of Aladdin announced its plans to extend the Chicago leg; great news for fans of both the film and the musical. Adam Jacobs, who originated the role on Broadway, plays the iconic street rat, and a soaring score (composed of beloved tunes from the movie as well as songs composed for the stage) will take you to “a whole new world.”
Through Sept. 10
The Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago